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The Names of God 

A short series in which we look at some of God's names in the Old Testament.

How many of God's names do you know? I have found lists on the internet with numbers ranging from 7 to a hundred. But why do they matter?

Many years ago, a friend said to us ,”You don't really believe in that old man in the sky, do you?” As an atheist, I suppose he could only imagine cartoon depictions of God, or possibly Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, of God as an old man creating Adam. How could even the greatest artist paint God?

And how can we explain what God is like?

This week I was reading the story of Moses where God appeared to him in the burning bush, calling him to listen. When Moses asked His name, the reply was “I AM WHO I AM.” Very enigmatic, but it suggests the idea of being everlasting and unchanging.

Hebrew names, unlike most of ours, disclose something of the nature and attributes of a person, so I was challenged to find some of God's names and meditate on their meaning, asking God to reveal more about Himself in them.

Here is one of them.

JEHOVAH SHALOM means ‘The Lord is Peace.’ We find it in Judges 6:14, where an angel appeared to Gideon, who was hiding in a wine press. The angel commissioned him to save Israel from the oppression of the Midianites, whose armies surrounded them at that time. Gideon, not surprisingly, was terrified, but the angel said to him, “Peace be with you. Do not fear.” So Gideon built an altar to Jehovah Shalom, The Lord is Peace, Later, he went on in God's strength, to remove pagan altars and save Israel from the surrounding armies, and from fear.

We may not be surrounded by an army, but many of us are fearful; of the future, of losing our jobs, of Covid, our children's education, you name it. Perhaps we could try ‘building an altar, as Gideon did, in the sense of pausing, thanking God for what we have, and resolving to try and trust Him for our future.

Or, as St Paul says in Philippians 4:6, ‘Do not worry about anything. Instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.’ (New Living Translation)

Brigid Smithers. Feb. 2021